Liam Kirk back where he began at Sheffield Steeldogs with big brother alongside

WHEN Liam Kirk steps out at Swindon Wildcats’ Link Centre rink tonight in the NIHL National Spring Cup for Sheffield Steeldogs, it will in many ways take him back to where his senior hockey career first began for him.

INTERNATIONAL AMBITION: Great Britain's Liam Kirk battles for the puck with France's Charles Bertrand in the Group A clash at the World Championships in slovakia in May 2019. Picture: Dean Woolley/MB Media/Getty Images

Shortly after celebrating his 16th birthday, Kirk was handed his first taste of the men’s game by Steeldogs’ then player-coach Greg Wood.

And while Wood is again the man behind the Steeldogs’ bench for the opening match of the behind-closed-doors tournament, it will be another, even more familiar face that will make tonight’s game a particularly special occasion for Kirk.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Read More

Read More
Jason Hewitt backing Jonathan Phillips to prosper for Sheffield Steeldogs in NIH...
Jonathan Kirk, in action for Hull Pirates against Leeds Chiefs last season. Picture: Dean Woolley.

For, skating alongside him in a competitive match for the first ever time will be older brother Jonathan.

When it comes to comparing the brothers’ respective hockey careers, it may be the younger Kirk that has attracted the majority of the headlines, particularly when becoming the first English-trained player to become an NHL Draft pick.

To book your pay-per-view online ticket to watch the Steeldogs take on Swindon Wildcats on Sunday (5pm) head HERE

Like his younger sibling, Jonathan came through the Sheffield junior system, but has spent the majority of his senior career with Hull Pirates, playing under player-coach Jason Hewitt, who also lines up for the Steeldogs.

Jonathan and Liam Kirk after the older brother had won the NIHL play-off title in Coventry in April 2019.

For GB international Kirk, who still hopes to return to Canada for a third season in the OHL with the Peterborough Petes, the chance to play on the same team as his brother will provide one of the most special moments in his short career.

“Jonathan is four years older than me so we obviously never played on the same team together coming up through junior hockey,” explained Kirk, who like everyone else in the sport has seen his 2020-21 season blown apart by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We did play against each other when I was 16 and at the Steeldogs and he was with the Pirates, but this will be the first time on the same team.

Liam Kirk, pictured on the Sheffield Steelers bench. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley.

“It’s exciting for both of us. I’ve always idolised my brother and looked up to him as I was growing up – he’s a big part of my success in the game, so I do owe a lot of credit to him.

“It’s going to be exciting to have this experience together and I’m sure our parents are both looking forward to it – they have followed us around everywhere over the years and have done so much for us, so it will be as much pleasure for them as it will be for us two.

“We’ve practised together over the years, including the last couple of weeks, but being on the same team for the first time together will make it very special.”

To book your pay-per-view online ticket to watch the Steeldogs take on Swindon Wildcats on Sunday (5pm) head HERE

Liam Kirk, left, in action for the Peterborough Petes against Hamilton Bulldogs. Kirk hopes to see some action in North America. Picture: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The only competitive hockey Kirk has managed to get in this season was a dozen or so games in Sweden with Hanhals.

He was due to return to North America at the start of the year with the OHL originally scheduling an early February start, only for that to be put on indefinite because of ongoing Covid-19 concerns.

So, for now, Kirk is back where it all began and, while he could get the call asking him to head over to North America at any time, he just wants to be back to playing competitive hockey.

“This season, ideally I want to be playing in the OHL, so as soon as that looks like it is going to go ahead and we have a date that is what I will be aiming for,” added Kirk.

“Obviously everybody at the Steeldogs knows what the situation is and wants what’s best for me. But this is such a good fit and good timing in the sense that I’m just waiting around for the OHL and now there is hockey going on in England.

“And with the EIHL mini-series not going ahead, there are a lot of Elite League guys that I’m sure will be playing on different teams,so the quality is going to be a lot better than I’m sure most people expect. We’ve had a number of practice sessions already and the intensity is there for everyone to see. It’s a good fit for me right now.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.